When West African states intervene in their neighboursThu, 10 Aug 2023 19:17:22 GMT

The West African bloc ECOWAS, which on Thursday said it will muster a “standby force” against the coup leaders in Niger, has a long history of military interventions in the region.The 15-member Economic Community of West African States, which is dominated by Nigeria, has previously sent troops into a number countries since 1990. – Liberia – In August 1990, in its first such foray, ECOWAS members assemble a force of several hundred men to intervene in Liberia’s brutal civil war.The Nigerian-dominated force quickly grows to nearly 20,000 soldiers.In 1997, it carries out a major disarmament operation, paving the way for multi-party elections.The last ECOWAS soldiers leave Liberia in October 1999 but four years later the bloc intervenes again after a second civil war breaks out.That mission is later folded into a UN peacekeeping operation.- Sierra Leone -In May 1997, ECOWAS forces are deployed in neighbouring Sierra Leone, also in the throes of a civil war.They drive out a military junta and reinstate president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. In 1999, they repel a rebel offensive on the capital Freetown.The force is replaced by a UN peacekeeping force in 2000.- Guinea-Bissau -A West African force also intervenes in the former Portuguese colony of Guinea Bissau in 1999 after an army mutiny against President Joao Bernardo Vieira.But the force withdraws several months later after failing to prevent Vieira’s overthrow.ECOWAS troops have returned twice since — in May 2012, to help the political transition after another coup and in 2022 after a failed putsch that claimed 11 lives.- Ivory Coast – A 1,300-strong West African force is deployed in January 2003 after a civil war effectively cuts Ivory Coast in two. In 2004, the ECOWAS soldiers are integrated into the UN’s mission in the country.- Mali -In January 2013, ECOWAS sends a force to Mali under a UN resolution to help drive out the Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists who overran the country’s north.France launches operation Serval.In July 2013, the 6,300-strong ECOWAS force is absorbed by the UN’s MINUSMA stabilisation force in Mali.MINUSMA ends its operations in June 2023 after being pushed out by an anti-Western military junta.- Gambia -In January 2017, troops from five African nations gather on the borders of the tiny coup-prone state of The Gambia to pressure strongman Yahya Jammeh to stand down after losing presidential elections to Adama Barrow.Two days later, Jammeh agrees to go into exile in Equatorial Guinea, ending six weeks of crisis.At Barrow’s request the ECOWAS mission remained in The Gambia.